Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 2020

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Forever Wild (The Simple Wild #2.5) by K.A. Tucker. Read December 1. 4 Stars. 

It took me a couple chapters to really get into this, but of course I enjoyed it. I love Calla and Jonah and the rest of the quirky cast of characters. And I’m really glad ***SPOILER*** we got to see their wedding. I did think it left a few things too open, but hopefully they’ll be address in the spin-off book (about Marie, which I’m not thrilled about, but will still read).

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Play with Me (Grover Beach Team #1) by Piper Shelly. Read November 30 – December 2. 2.5 Stars. 

This has been on my TBR a long time. It was a pretty classic YA Contemporary for the time period it was published in. I didn’t love the characters, but I didn’t hate them. I would’ve given this 3 stars, except I found the love interest kind of skeevy in the epilogue. I won’t be reading any other books in this series.

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The Not-Outcast by Tijan. Read December 2-6. 2 Stars. 

Sometimes I am completely here for all the angsty, over-the-top drama in Tijan books. I wasn’t for this one. I did like how the story shone a light on someone living with severe mental health issues and I ended up liking the romance between Cut and Cheyenne, even though the whole alpha-possessive thing put me off at first. That was about all I liked, though.

I really didn’t care for Cheyenne’s friends. Sure, they were there for each other and were loyal and that’s nice. But I hated how they handled things. They either got drunk or did dumb pranks and just came off as really immature to me. A lot is talked about Cheyenne’s mental health issues, but I think her friends really could’ve used some intensive therapy, too, to be honest.

And while I liked the inclusion of the mental health issues, I didn’t think they were handled that well. Cheyenne kind of acts like no one except for people “like her” could possibly understand anything she goes through. While she did have a more extreme reaction to things, I think I lot of the ways she thought and had anxiety is normal for a lot of people.

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The Cousins by Karen M. McManus. Read December 6-9. 3.5 Stars. 

I enjoyed this, but thought it started better than it ended. There were a decent amount of twists and while I wouldn’t say that I was super surprised by any of them, I didn’t see all of them coming from miles away, either. I liked the characters and the multiple POVs. I thought it started to feel a little long, though, and the end was pretty underwhelming. What was supposed to be a shock at the end came off as kind of lame to me. Overall, though, it entertained me for a good few days and I look forward to McManus’ next book.

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The Clause in Christmas (Poppy Creek #2) by Rachael Bloome. Read December 10-12. 3.5 Stars.

I’ve been looking for a cute Christmas Romance and this one hit the spot. The romance was sweet and I liked the characters and small town setting. I did think that Cassie could be a little overdramatic, though, and then everything would work out a little too easily after. Overall, it was a cute story that reminded me a lot of a Hallmark Christmas movie and I might give the next book in the series a try.

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Date Me Like You Mean It by R.S. Grey. Read December 13. 4 Stars. 

It’s been a long time since I managed to read a proper-sized book in a day, but that’s what happened with this book. I enjoyed Maddie and Aiden and definitely shipped them together. I do have to say that I enjoyed the first half of the book a little more than the last half, though. Thankfully, the last couple chapters brought the overall story back to a 4 star read for me. I also want to say that the tone of the book felt a lot different than the synopsis suggests and I think that’s a good thing. If you’re a fan of R.S. Grey, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book, too.

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Best Friends Don’t Kiss by Max Monroe. Read December 13-16. 3.5 Stars

This was cute. I loved the best friendship between Ava and Luke and I liked when it turned into more. I thought the pacing seemed a little odd, though. I expected the majority of the book to be in the fake relationship stage, but it’s about half way through the book before they join Ava’s family. There was so much time spent on Ava going on bad dates that seemed a little pointless because we already know that Luke is going to agree to be the fake boyfriend. There were also a number of cameos of characters from other books by this author duo that I’m sure long time fans love, but I found really confusing trying to keep track of. All that said, though, this was an enjoyable read and I might even try some other books by these authors. If it wasn’t for the SUPER sappy last couple chapters that I found a little hard to stomach, I probably would’ve bumped my rating up to 4 stars.

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The Prince and the Troll (Faraway #1) by Rainbow Rowell. Read December 16. 1 Star. 

It hurts my heart to rate a Rainbow Rowell book so low, but what even was this? 25 pages of allegorical climate change and socioeconomic status commentary? This was a big NOPE for me.

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The Office Party by Whitney G. Read December 18-20. 3 Stars. 

The whole concept of this story was kind of ridiculous and the romantic lead seemed a little stalkerish, but it had some funny moments that I enjoyed.

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The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. Read December 22-23. 3 Stars. 

Usually I’m not a fan of novellas, but I thought this one could actually have benefitted by being a little shorter. There were some cute and funny moments and I did like Riley and Kennedy together, but I thought the story dragged a lot at times. There were also mentions of pretty heavy emotional topics that are brought up at random times and then quickly shoved aside. I also thought it was eye-rollingly sappy at times. That said, it was a quick, enjoyable little book that fit in with my holiday reading binge and I might give these authors another try.

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Scrooged by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. Read December 24. 4 Stars. 

I didn’t realize this was 3 stories instead of 1 when I picked it up, but it worked for me. They maybe weren’t the best quality books I’ve ever read, but I enjoyed them and I read them on Christmas Eve, so I gave it 4 stars.

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Floored by Karla Sorensen. Read December 18-26. 2 Stars. 

Knowing that unplanned pregnancy is one of my least favorite tropes, I probably should’ve skipped this book. It was definitely my least favorite Sorensen book. It took me a very long time to get on board with Lia and Jude. In the beginning I did not feel their chemistry at all. It felt really forced to me. It wasn’t until the last few chapters that I actually bought into their feelings for each other. I also didn’t like how they handled things for the majority of the book. However, I DID like that Lia didn’t waste too much time in telling Jude about the pregnancy because the only think I hate more than the unplanned pregnancy trope is the “surprise, you’re a father!” trope – where the mother tells the fathers years after the kid is born. While this book wasn’t for me, I am looking forward to Isabel’s book next.

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The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss. Read December 27-29. 2.5 Stars. 

This had a lot of potential, but it didn’t live up to it for me. It was way longer than it needed to be with far too much description about meaningless things. And after spending most of the book shipping Kate and Matt, I thought the big reconciliation moment fell flat.

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Searching for Coach Taylor by Mindy Kaling. Read December 29. 3 Stars.

A little funny, but not really anything special. I will probably skip the rest of these essays.

*****Re-Read*****

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Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd. I loved this just as much the second time around. I think this book is going to be one of my holiday traditions that I read every year.

*****DNF*****

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New Year’s Steve by Sara Ney and M.E. Carter. DNF @ 38%. I don’t really have any legitimate complaints about this book, except that I don’t think the humor was for me and I just couldn’t get into it. After a couple chapters I also realized that the side characters were from a book I read last Christmas by the same authors that I didn’t really enjoy, either, so I decided it probably wouldn’t be worth it to finish this one. I do love the colors in that cover, though!

WWW Wednesday: December 23, 2020

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

I would also like to take a moment to ask everyone to celebrate with me that this is my last work day in 2020! I am super pumped for some time off (that isn’t due to pandemic related reasons).

What did you recently finish reading?

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The Office Party by Whitney G. The plot was kind of ridiculous, but sometimes it was funny.

I also did a re-read of Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd, which I loved just as much the second time around.

What are you currently reading?

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The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward. I wanted to keep going with Christmas reads, but I’ve been having trouble finding ones that actually sound interesting to me. After several weeks of these type of books and months of Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies I might just be getting burned out on them. This one keeps catching my eye, though, and I decided to finally give it a try. I’ve only read one other book by these authors and I DNF-ed it, so I’m hoping this one turns out better for me.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Unless another Christmas Romance catches my eye, I might move on to New Year’s with New Year’s Steve by Sara Ney and M.E. Carter.

What are you reading?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 2019

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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His Royal Highness by R.S. Grey. Read November 22-December 1. 3.5 Stars. 

It took awhile to get into this, but I did end up enjoying it overall. I had a hard time with Whitney for about the first half of the book, but I did ship grown up Whitney and Derek together and I liked the theme park setting.

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Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey. Read December 1. 4 Stars. 

I love a good Friends-to-More story and this was pretty cute. Sam was a little over dramatic, but other than that I found her likable enough and I liked Ian a lot. Though there were a few things I had issues with here and there, this is the first book in a long time that has really caught my interest and didn’t let go. I read it in a day, so it’s getting 4 stars from me.

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The Allure of Julian LeFray by R.S. Grey. Read December 1-3. 4 Stars. 

I enjoyed this. The characters were likable and I thought they went really well together. I honestly expected a lot more angst in their relationship than there was and I liked that. The one thing that brought it down for me was the whole “janitor gets put in a high fashion runway show” thing. Just a little too unbelievable. I also would’ve liked more of an epilogue for the relationship between Julian and Jo. I know that they’ll show up in the next book, but I’m a little hesitant to read it because of how much I disliked Lily in this book. I’m not sure I can take a whole book of her.

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Enemies by Tijan. Read December 6-7. 3.5 Stars

My first Tijan book. It took me a bit to click with her writing style, but I enjoyed the book, overall. Dusty was super frustrating, but she made some progress throughout the story. I thought the portrayal of depression and anxiety was really well done. And while I had issues with their relationship at times, I did ship Dusty and Stone.

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Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd. Read December 7-10. 4 Stars. 

I enjoyed this a lot. There was some great banter and plenty of cute moments. I thought Olivia and Asher were really good together and they gave me some The Hating Game vibes, which I loved. It did feel a little unfocused at times, though, and I could have done with Olivia being a less less pervy sometimes. Overall, though, it was cute and definitely one I recommend.

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Girl in Luv (In Luv Duet #1) by Jay Crownover and Rebecca Yarros. Read December 10-12. 3.5 Stars. 

First off, I absolutely love the cover for this so much. I thought the main characters were likable and enjoyed their fake relationship. I expected this to be really angsty, but it wasn’t and I liked that. I was kind of bored for large parts of it, though. There really wasn’t much to it, but it was an easy read. I do plan on reading the next book.

I do have one little rant, though. This series is on Kindle Unlimited right now, but apparently you originally had to pre-order a book from one of the authors to get it as a bonus and to get the second book in the series you had to pre-order a book from the other author. I don’t like that at all. What if you loved this story, but had zero interest in the book you had to pre-order to get the second half of this story? It just seems wrong to me.

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Inside Out by Demi Moore. Read December 16-17. 4 Stars. 

I’ve never been a huge Demi Moore fan, but I was still really looking forward to reading this book. She definitely has led a crazy life and has overcome a lot of dysfunction. I appreciated that she was willing to really lay everything out in the open. She did take responsibility for a lot of things she did wrong, but there were a few times where she really painted herself as the victim, much like her mother did, and didn’t seem to recognize that. (There were also many, many times where she was definitely a victim of an atrocity and I am not talking about those instances in her youth here.) Overall, I enjoyed this book and learning more about Demi.

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Boy in Luv (In Luv Duet #2) by Jay Crownover and Rebecca Yarros. Read December 18-19. 3 Stars. 

Pretty slow-paced and not a lot happened. It wasn’t bad, but this isn’t a series I would pick up again.

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The Boss Who Stole Christmas (Reindeer Falls #1) by Jana Aston. Read December 21. 3 Stars. 

This had some cute moments and for the most part I liked the relationship between the main characters. It’s a short book, though, and while that has it’s merits, I don’t feel like I got enough time to really get invested in them. There was also a sex scene in a church I found a little offensive. I don’t see myself continuing the series, but this wasn’t bad for a KU pick.

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The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen. Read December 22-23. 4 Stars. 

This author’s usual Romance books aren’t really for me, but Deanna suggested this YA book to me awhile ago and I finally gave it a try and I really loved it! It totally broke me out of my book slump. Very addictive writing with just the right amount of angst. There were plenty of frustrating moments – like the fact that Rachel and her father, Fredrick, don’t have an actual real discussion about why it took almost 18 years for him to meet her until after the 90% mark – but there were lots of cute and sweet moments that helped make up for it. I loved Jake a lot, especially his e-mails from the beginning. One thing I was missing, though, was the emotion from Rachel losing her mother. Maybe it’s because the story starts out after she has already passed, but I felt it should have been a lot more emotional than it was. For me, though, the emotional connection didn’t come until much later as she worked through her relationship with her father. Overall, this was a very different book than I expected it to be, but I really enjoyed it and am sorry I waited so long to read it.

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Kissmas Eve by M.E. Carter and Sara Ney. Read December 25-26. 2.5 Stars.

This was a short Christmas-Office-Romance. There were some funny moments, but overall I thought it was kind of cheesy and rushed and I didn’t really buy the romance.

*****Back on the TBR*****

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Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen. I really thought this would be right up my alley, but I had a hard time getting into it and only read two chapters. I do hope to give it another try some day, though.

*****DNF*****

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The Guy on the Right by Kate Stewart. DNF at 6%. Maybe if I wasn’t in such a mood I would give this one more of a chance, but I couldn’t even make myself finish the first chapter of this.

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The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan. DNF @ 4%. I thought there was a good probability I would DNF this book, but I didn’t guess it would be for political reasons. Too much of that in real life, I don’t want it in my books.

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Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson. DNF @ 8%. I read one chapter and kind of hated everything about it. I was going to try to read at least one more chapter, but now my library loan has expired and I know I’m never going to request this one again.

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The Allure of Dean Harper by R.S. Grey. DNF @ 14%. Yeah, no. I tried, but I can’t do this one. A couple chapters in where Dean goes on and on about how he only hires attractive people to work in his restaurants and even says it goes looks first and then experience when it comes to the hiring process just came off as so disgusting to me. And then there’s Lily. I thought I was going to have problems with her based on the previous book and I was right. Anybody who has ever worked in the service industry knows that you are going to have to deal with a lot of horrible customers and that you have to suck it up and do your job, no matter how much of a jerk they are. And while Dean was deliberately trying to fluster her, I think he was 100% in his right to fire her for her behavior and it REALLY annoyed me that he came off as the bad guy in that scenario (and it was just before that that I decided he was disgusting and didn’t like him, so that really says something that I feel the need to defend him).

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A Billion Times No by Kenzie Reed. DNF @ 33%. I thought this sounded kind of cute, but it’s just really not for me. I don’t really care for any of the characters and there’s some major cheesiness going on.

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Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. DNF @ 19%. I thought this sounded cute and I have heard good things about it, but the main character is just driving me absolutely nuts.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson – 3.5 Stars

The Better Liar by Tanen Jones – 2 Stars